Every year, U of T compiles quarterly lists of all donations it receives that total over $250,000. This year, for the first time, the university publicly disclosed these lists.

These releases disclosed that the university received a total of $71,878,286 from 62 donors from May 1, 2023, to Jan 31, 2024. The list of donors includes companies with negative environmental track records, including the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), and Teck Resources Limited.

The Varsity broke down the donations U of T disclosed, the sources they came from, and the faculties they went to. 

Where did the reports come from?

From May 1, 2022, to April 30, 2023, U of T received approximately $256 million in pledges and gifts — roughly eight per cent of its total operating revenue for that year. 

The university’s Provostial Guidelines on Donations require the university to provide a list of all donations totalling $250,000 or more to the Business and Academic Boards every quarter. Prior to the 2023–2024 school year, only board members could view the list.

In September, faculty groups criticized U of T for running a conference featuring speakers associated with Amazon after receiving a $600,000 donation from the e-commerce giant that it didn’t disclose to the public. In response, the university returned the controversial donation to Amazon and agreed to release lists of donations of over $250,000 to the public.

Top three donors

According to the lists, 14 faculties received donations of over $250,000 this year. The Temerty Faculty of Medicine received the largest amount of donations, with a total of $22,019,816 — approximately 31 per cent of all donations disclosed


According to the lists, the top three donors to the university so far this year were David Feldman, the Midas Touch Foundation, and the LRDR Foundation. These three donors gave approximately 45 per cent of the money the university disclosed in the reports. 

David Feldman is the president, founder and CEO of Camrost Felcorp, a development firm. He donated $15 million to the Rotman School of Management to establish the David Feldman Centre for Real Estate and Urban Economics

The Midas Touch Foundation — a private foundation managed by David Harquail, Birgitta Sigfridsson-Harquail, and family — donated $12 million to the Temerty Faculty of Medicine. The donation will support neuromodulation research, education, and patient care in the faculty and also endow a new Harquail Chair in Neuromodulation. 

The LRDR Foundation is a private foundation, and one of the directors — Richard Rooney — is a New College alumnus. It gave five million dollars to the Faculty of Arts & Science to create two professorships and post-doctoral fellowships for African Studies and Caribbean Studies programs, respectively. Both programs originated at New College.

Connections with fossil fuel industry

The lists reveal that RBC, CIBC, and Teck Resources Limited donated $450,000, $1,000,000, and $250,000 to the university, respectively. CIBC and RBC have both funded controversial fossil fuel projects, and RBC ranked first in the world for fossil fuel funding in 2022, according to the 2023 Banking on Climate Chaos report

Teck Resources Limited — one of British Columbia’s largest mining companies — has a long history of environmental violations. This includes contaminating water with selenium, a mineral that can harm fish populations. 

U of T committed to divest its endowment from fossil fuels in 2021. In January 2024, the student group Climate Justice UofT published a report entitled “Bound to Big Oil,” which chronicles connections between the university and fossil fuel companies. The report notes that, from 2008–2018, U of T received more than $64 million in direct monetary donations from the fossil fuel industry, along with funding for 635 research articles affiliated with U of T. 

The report argues that such ties “create leverage points for fossil fuel companies to pressure institutions to act in alignment with their corporate interests.” In response to students criticizing its willingness to accept fossil fuel funding in the past, U of T has pointed to its guidelines and practices that aim to prevent undue influence such as its policies on research ethics and conflict of interest.